An engaging and authoritative history of Scotland’s influence in the world and the world’s on Scotland, from the Thirty Years’ War to the present day
Scotland is one of the oldest nations in the world, yet by some it is hardly counted as a nation at all. Neither a colony of England nor a fully equal partner in the British union, Scotland has often been seen as simply a component part of British history. But the story of Scotland is one of innovation, exploration, resistance—and global consequence.
In this wide-ranging, deeply researched account, Murray Pittock examines the place of Scotland in the world. He explores Scotland and Empire, the rise of nationalism, and the pressures on the country from an increasingly monolithic understanding of “Britishness.” From the Thirty Years’ War to Jacobite risings and today’s ongoing independence debates, Scotland and its diaspora have undergone profound changes. This groundbreaking account reveals the diversity of Scotland’s history and shows how, after the country disappeared from the map as an independent state, it continued to build a global brand.
Murray Pittock MAE FRSE is Scotland’s leading cultural historian. His books include Culloden, Enlightenment in a Smart City, The Myth of the Jacobite Clans, and Robert Burns in Global Culture.
“Impressive. . . . The strength of this book lies in the way events such as the Act of Union and the Clearances are revealed to have had global consequences.”—Gerard DeGroot, Times (UK)
“Engaging, lively and full of insight, a vivid account of Scottish endeavours in politics, science, literature, art and economics. . . . Pittock records the ebb and flow of Scotland’s international experience with panache and pace.”—Anna Keay, The Guardian
“A much needed overview of a fascinating and underwritten subject. Spectacularly panoramic and sweeping while always remaining rigorously scholarly, it ranges effortlessly and with confident authority over 400 years of history, from Quebec to Calcutta, from Ossian to Trainspotting.”—William Dalrymple, Spectator, “Books of the Year”
“Perhaps the best book on Scotland I ever have read.”—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution (blog), “Best Nonfiction Books of 2023”
“There is much to admire here. . . . One of the strengths of a history of Scotland within the United Kingdom is that it cannot avoid emphasising the sheer strangeness of Britain. It is a country quite unlike other European nations for it is, at heart, a composite state: a Union of four other nations creating a fifth which exists alongside—and sometimes above—its constituent parts. The tensions and interplay between these identities form part of Murray Pittock’s handsome new history.”—Alex Massie, The Spectator
“There is scarcely a dull page in this book, though readers may well find the wealth of detail dizzying. Yet the detail is as necessary as it is fascinating, for the key to Scottish success in Europe and the wider world is the national—clannish or familial—gift or enthusiasm for networking. . . . A fascinating, thought-provoking book.”—Allan Massie, The Scotsman
“The engine behind this history is running at full throttle, and its momentum carries the reader on at speed. Whatever side of the constitutional argument one stands on, this is an invigorating assessment.”—Rosemary Goring, The Herald
“Yale University Press always produces beautiful books with copious colour plates and black-and-white illustrations, at attractive prices. This is one such, which will appeal to those who know relatively little of Scotland, past or present, and who relish a selective, opinionated romp strewn with random facts. Entertaining and bamboozling in equal measure, it should also stimulate readers to search for more authoritative texts on their favourite topics or periods.”—Rab Houston, BBC History Magazine
“The title of Murray Pittock’s excellent new history might simply read Scotland, but really it is as much a fascinating study of the Union as it is of Scotland’s evolving place in the world.”—David McAllister, Prospect
“Pittock is an extraordinary polymath whose ability to effortlessly cover a vast subject area in this remarkable work is breathtaking. . . . His scope is vast and he writes with verve and panache that rivals anything that has gone before.”—Richard Bath, Scottish Field
“The two most arresting parts of Pittock’s history, which develops from pioneering work by Michael Fry and Christopher Harvie, are his accounts of Scotland’s attempts in the century before the union of the parliaments to project its power overseas and of the sudden spurt given to individual Scottish talent by the Act of Union.”—Iain Bamforth, Literary Review
“It is the job of the historian, [Pittock] continues, both to bust myths and to acknowledge their appeal, a challenge he embraces in Scotland: The Global History with gusto. Part history book, part manifesto, throughout it demonstrates his concern to emphasize the distinctiveness of Scotland . . . as well as to highlight the historical significance of the country’s external relationships.”—Valerie Wallace, Times Literary Supplement
Named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2023
“A monumental achievement. . . . This is a tremendous book, a really significant contribution to Scottish history. It will delight, surprise and irritate in equal measure.”—Christopher Whatley, author of The Scots and the Union
“A hugely important book which will astonish and delight everyone engaged in the matter of Scotland. What impresses is the range and scope of Pittock’s global vision for Scotland, but what engages is the minute human detail of the people in the diaspora that he reveals to us, positive and negative. A magisterial work which Scots will actively return to again and again, as we redefine our role in Europe and the world in the 21st century.”—Billy Kay, author of The Scottish World
“As a consequence of both its long history as an independent kingdom, its position in the union state that is the UK, and the massive emigration that has characterised its modern history, Scotland has, for a small country, unusually broad and deep global connections. In this wide-ranging and engaging book, Pittock explores the survival of Scotland and the projection of its identity across the globe.”—Ewen Cameron, author of Impaled Upon the Thistle
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